I still can’t believe it happened to me. I had always been a confident rider, an optimistic person, and I had found myself in this deep funk that I couldn’t pull myself out of it. One day after a bad day at work, I went out to visit my critters with terrible energy. I grabbed a brush from the tack shed and thought some time grooming my horses would make me feel better. Boy was I wrong.
I had just finished brushing my alpha mare and moved on to brush my Rosie girl, and out of nowhere, THWACK! I got kicked so hard that although I knew I had been hurt, it didn’t fully register right away. I stood there in total disbelief; my world had just been rocked. Thankfully, my boss mare hit me squarely in the thigh instead of my “good knee”. (I literally still have a slight bruise and the kick happened almost a year ago).
I still don’t fully know what happened. It’s possible the boss mare was simply kicking at Rosie to get her to leave so she could have more grooming time. But the kick could have just as well been meant for me since my energy was at an all-time low. In all my years, I had never been kicked like that and I slowly began to lose my confidence around the horses, especially in the pasture. If you have ever been in this place, you know that you can’t be in charge around horses without confidence, so each interaction quickly deteriorated.
My mare, Rosie, is the most wonderful and yet challenging horse. My other two horses were kind enough to fumble through my lack of confidence but not Rosie. Oh no. She is a little bit feisty, and we both are fighters which meant things would escalate and then of course not end well. I started struggling with Rosie on different occasions, not every time, mainly when we were at home and she had to ride out away from the other horses. Eventually, I somehow lost my confidence in my ability to communicate with her. I was so defeated and disappointed in myself. And what was worse, I just couldn’t understand how I got there or frankly, what to do about it.
At my lowest point, my friend’s little girl Grace gave me a valentine that said “Step Into Your Power”. I believe in signs and I took that one to heart. I hung that valentine on my fridge so I would see it every day and although no one else had any clue what the heck it meant or why in the world it was on the fridge, I knew. I was officially on a mission to regain my confidence in myself and with my horses.
My nature is to dig in and research when I’m struggling with something or to go to the experts. So I took a few lessons from my friend who was instrumental in recovering my confidence. She gave me some exercises to work on with Rosie which got Rosie and I back on the same team. I also signed up to audit Phil Haugen’s clinic with another friend and that was a tremendous help. This clinic provided me with the game plan of how to repair my relationship with my horse. I have even signed up to participate with Rosie in Phil’s clinic when he returns this fall. This is going to be a challenge for the two of us, so I have enlisted friends to help me get “clinic ready”. More to come on that adventure.
Today, that cloud that was hanging over me has disappeared and my confidence has returned. I can’t wait for more good riding weather. I share this story in case someone out there is facing a similar situation and is at their low point with their horse and questioning where to go from here. You are not alone. You are not a failure. You will figure out your way back. A few tips to help you on that path?
- First, give yourself grace. I was so disappointed in myself but that is simply not helpful. We are human and will stumble on our path from time to time, but in the end, it does make us stronger.
- Reach out to your contacts for help. We are surrounded by an amazing community of horse people who are more than happy to help. It was hard to admit I needed the help and couldn’t do it myself, but once I did, I was on my road back to enjoying my time with Rosie rather than dreading it.
- Know that time is on your side. If you are having a bad day with your horse, put them away and return the next day when you both are in a better place. I tried to push through which works with most horses, but when you have two stubborn females disagreeing on how to move forward...... it just didn’t pay to keep pushing.
- And lastly, have faith. Although I didn’t feel it, I knew that I had the ability to regain my confidence, I just needed to believe in myself again.
If you have gone through something similar, or are currently in the process, please feel free to reach out to me. I would love to be your sounding board and/or cheerleader. We are never alone. email@example.com